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2018 Higher Education Industry Outlook
Trends in change and modernization in higher education
Jeff Bradfield, Deloitte Consulting LLP principal and national practice leader for Higher Education, along with other Deloitte Higher Education practice leaders share their thoughts on what we can likely expect to see in higher education in 2018.
- Turning insights into outcomes
- Cyber risk, policy, and governance
- Student-centered institution
- Human capital transformation
- Digital and analytics
- Deloitte's Higher Education practice
- Center for Higher Education Excellence
- Get in touch
- Related topics
Turning insights into outcomes
The pressures from external and internal forces on higher education are unprecedented, ranging from federal and state government policy, rule, and regulatory changes to the ongoing challenges and demands from constituents such as parents, alumni, and students. College and university leaders, including presidents, chancellors, provosts, and finance, technology, and human resource (HR) leaders, are facing new disruptions across the academic enterprise. As a result, it is more critical than ever that leadership employ strategies for approaching change and modernization proactively.
In this Industry Outlook for 2018, we examine four areas that we consider critical to the majority of institutions regardless of where they fall in the higher education panoply.
...it is more critical than ever that leadership employ strategies for approaching change and modernization proactively.
Cyber risk, policy, and governance
2018 will require a new level of diligence and focus in the area of cyber from institutions. Many colleges and universities aspire to take on more federally-sponsored research, leverage more and more federal financial aid for students, and collaborate with entities across state and federal borders. At the same time, the federal government is increasing its demands for protections from higher education in safeguarding data associated with federal contracts. This set of forces comes at a time of escalating attempts to breach campus information systems by national and international actors.
In an overall effort to increase value to students, reduce costs, and become more competitive, many higher education institutions will continue to update and modernize their technology platforms. We see a rapid adoption of next-generation systems in higher education, especially core financial, student, and human resources systems that process and maintain significant amounts of data that the federal government considers protected.
The advent of cloud computing has exacerbated an already thorny problem in higher education data governance—enabling individual divisions, departments, colleges, and schools to invest in local solutions without consideration for the enterprise implications of data these systems will touch or need to touch. In tandem, there will be a need to update information security strategies and solutions so they realign to new risks being introduced and keep pace with leading practices.
As with organizations in other industries, higher education institutions will likely remain challenged in finding and funding skilled talent to address the growing risk—in other words, it is a race that many institutions simply cannot win. However, many of the same forces that are impacting needs related to cyber risk are also presenting opportunities for institutions. More specifically, the advent of cloud technology, while at one level creating additional challenges, is also enabling a number of new security solutions. This will allow institutions to more easily tackle new—or changing—cybersecurity issues through
We anticipate an increasing demand for managed identity and access, security monitoring, and governance, risk, and compliance solutions. The new security-related regulations increasingly put federal grant funding (and potentially even federal financial aid) at risk, fueling attention from senior executives that may increase funding and support for more rigorous controls and governance, which may not have received sufficient attention and resources in the past.
In 2018, we will likely see institutions taking a student-centered design thinking approach that focuses on meeting the expectations of today's student, helping institutions optimize and modernize with the student journey in mind.
Today, many higher education institutions still require students, faculty, and staff to follow antiquated procedures designed to meet the process needs of offices and academic units of the past. These processes can stifle the positive experience that today's constituents expect. Designing new processes and deploying modern technology with the student at the center is an important step in modernizing how students, faculty, and staff interact with the institution and thus improve the overall experience. Some leading higher education institutions are adjusting processes to meet the needs of their constituents—focusing on the roles and expectations on campus to understand the individual traits and challenges—and more are likely to follow suit.
When thinking about taking a human-centered design approach, academic institutions should consider what is being done effectively in other industries.
For example, banks that win over millennials deliver customized services and unique experiences, create smart products that self-optimize around customer goals, offer services that anticipate future needs, and deliver higher levels of security and trust. Using methods rooted in design thinking helps IT and institutional leaders better understand shifting constituent expectations. Academic institutions can leverage those same concepts and tailor processes to meet the needs of their students.
Human capital transformation
The maturing landscape of cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) technology provides higher education institutions with an opportunity to use a technology implementation project as a catalyst for transforming how their organization functions. In addition to the attraction that the lower total cost of ownership presents when moving from legacy systems to cloud ERP, in which upgrades are the responsibility of the vendor, the focus of the solution shifts to end-user experience combined with feature functionality—a winning combination.
Today's leading universities employ staff and faculty who are digitally savvy and expect the same on-demand experience at work that they enjoy in their personal lives. But legacy HR systems in higher education often cannot deliver on this expectation, which can result in faculty and administrators who are disengaged and sometimes disappointed with institutional interactions. HR leaders in higher education are beginning to recognize the need to shift from "systems of record" to constituent-centered models—giving their faculty, staff, and student workers a modern, personalized, social, and mobile experience.
People are a university's most valuable asset, yet recruitment, rewards programs, and the overall HR experience in higher education—as in many industries—is not necessarily commensurate with the value the institution places on this set of resources. In 2018, we are likely to see an increasing number of institutions developing and offering faculty, staff, and student workers a modern, unified, and efficient experience to support their work lives on campus.
With a cloud-based subscription product that is configurable to handle institution-specific content, processes, and nuances, institutions can improve the overall constituent experience by allowing faculty, staff, and student workers to access HR content as easily and simply as interacting with consumer-based websites. Advanced analytics aggregate user interactions to allow HR to continually improve content and processes based on what's important to the workforce adjustment.
Digital and analytics
Students live in a digital world and are expecting an academic, administrative, and social experience that enables them to intuitively navigate and engage effectively with faculty and staff. To improve the student experience in 2018 and beyond, higher education institutions can prioritize and allocate scarce resources toward analytics in a way that extends and enhances current capabilities and moves them toward achieving their mission.
Before an institution embarks on its analytic journey, it's important to understand where the institution is starting from and the analytic capabilities already in place. Many institutions invest in analytics technology but do not incorporate these tools into an overarching analytics strategy. Taking an inventory of current analytic technologies, techniques, and talent is an important first step. Gaining insight into who an institution's students are—and what they need—allows the institution to improve the student experience and ensure students are equipped with tools for success.
Predictive analytics is the exploration of past and present data to identify patterns in behavior and determine a student's potential for success. Through predictive analytics, institutions can develop academic instruction and student satisfaction models that help retain students and increase graduation rates. A toolkit approach for analytics that combines analytics strategy; people and organizational alignment; process improvements; data management and governance; and technology solutions to embed analytics when and where they matter most to help organizations make better decisions faster will continue to be extremely viable in the market.
Deloitte's Higher Education practice
Deloitte is dedicated to advancing the mission of higher education by working hands on with institutions nationwide to achieve lasting, impactful, and measurable results. We understand no two higher education institutions are alike and that every issue can have broad implications. This is why our approach is designed for flexibility, collaboration, and start-to-finish support. Our team consists of former higher education administrators, leaders, and specialists in the field, complemented by Deloitte's world-class technology capabilities. We provide services focused on student experience, technology transformation, financial and operational efficiency, organizational leadership, and cybersecurity. Learn more Deloitte's Higher Education practice.
Center for Higher Education Excellence
Deloitte's Center for Higher Education Excellence produces groundbreaking research to help colleges and universities navigate these challenges and reimagine how they achieve excellence in many aspects of the academy: teaching, learning, and research. Through forums and immersive lab sessions, we engage the higher education community collaboratively on a transformative journey, exploring critical topics, overcoming constraints, and expanding the limits of the art of the possible. Learn more about Deloitte's Center for Higher Education Excellence.
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